Who made the final four of the ‘Coolest Thing Made in PA’ contest?

It’s now down to the final four – four companies that is. 

The latest round of voting in the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s “Coolest Thing Made in PA” contest has whittled the competition down to four products made in the state. 

 Mrs. T’s Pierogies will be pitted against Yuengling Lager. On the other side of the bracket, Primanti Brothers Sandwich faces Sheetz MTO. 

Voters across the state will decide the next round of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry’s bracket-style contest by voting from now until Friday, March 31, at 5 p.m. 

The championship round will take place on Monday, April 4, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the winner announced on the PA Chamber’s Twitter page before tip-off of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. 

More than 30,000 Pennsylvanians have already cast their votes. Votes can be cast on the chamber’s Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/PAChamber.  

In addition to bragging rights, the winner will receive complimentary tickets to next year’s Annual PA Economic Forecast and Business Leadership Summit where they will be honored. 

Best gas station food? Survey says it’s Wawa

Wawa beats out other gas stations nationwide for having the best food, in a new survey from Payless Power.

The suburban Philadelphia-based convenience store chain, which is expanding farther into central Pennsylvania as well as other states, was the top choice in this category among 1,011 Americans asked about their gas station preferences.

Costco and Sheetz, which also have a presence in the region, did well, too.

Some other highlights from the survey:

· Overall, Costco was No. 1, Sam’s Club No. 3, Wawa No. 4 and Sheetz No. 5 in the ranking of America’s best stops.

· Costco was the cleanest and cheapest gas station. Wawa was fourth cleanest.

· Wawa had the most spent on each visit on average, $84.46, and the shortest average time, 16 minutes.

· Sheetz and Costco ranked third and fourth, respectively, as having the best food.

Of the 57% men and 43% women surveyed, 10% were baby boomers, 22% were Gen X, 43% were millennials and 25% were Gen Z.

Paula Wolf is a freelance writer

Sheetz offering discounted diesel to truck, car drivers


As the cost of fuel continues to impact both businesses and individual drivers, a Pennsylvania-based gas and convenience store chain is doing something about it. 

Sheetz has announced that it is decreasing the price it charges for diesel fuel by 50 cents per gallon at all of the 665 Mid-Atlantic locations that sell diesel. 

The chain said that it predicts the decrease will result in a savings of around $10 for mid-sized trucks, $12 for full-size trucks and $60 for semi-trailers. 

The discount begins Jan. 10 and continues through Jan. 31. 

The offer will include both auto diesel fuel and truck diesel fuel options.

Last September, Sheetz celebrated Truck Driver Appreciation Week by reducing diesel fuel prices to $4.49 a gallon for the entire month. Sheetz further showed its appreciation by offering truck drivers free meals in September.

During the offer, the chain said that the price displayed at the pump is the final purchase price and reflects the price rollback.

Nephew of Sheetz founder named president and CEO

Travis Sheetz –

Sheetz, a Mid-Atlantic restaurant and convenience chain that has locations throughout the region, has named Travis Sheetz as its new president and CEO.

Travis is the nephew of Sheetz founder Bob Sheetz, who was previously Sheetz’s president & COO, the first COO in the 69-year history of the company.

The company’s previous CEO, Joe Sheetz, will now serve as executive vice chairman and will continue to support CLI Transport, the dedicated petroleum carrier for Sheetz’s stores, as well as the company’s board of directors, finance and legal departments.

The move will become effective in early January.

“Over the past 69 years, Sheetz has grown dramatically from a small dairy store in Pennsylvania to one of the fastest growing family-owned convenience retailers with more than 600 locations across six states,” said Joe Sheetz. “Through Travis’ leadership, I am confident Sheetz will continue to grow and innovate to not only meet the needs of customers on-the-go but give customers the next level of convenience they didn’t even know existed.”

Travis started at Sheetz as a real estate site selector before spending time as a director in the company’s marketing department. Travis has continued to work his way up in the company, holding roles as Sheetz’s vice president of operations and executive vice president of operations before being promoted to president & COO in 2018.

He holds a B.S. in Finance from Penn State University and an M.B.A. from Vanderbilt University.

Sheetz to begin accepting cryptocurrency payments at select stores

Sheetz will begin accepting digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and Dogecoin through digital currency payment company Flexa.

The Altoona-based restaurant and convenience chain announced on Thursday that it will be the first convenience store chain to accept bitcoin when it begins accepting payments through Flexa this summer.

When available, customers will be able to use a variety of cryptocurrencies to pay for items in select Sheetz’ convenience stores. Later in the year, Sheetz also intends to begin accepting Flexa payments at its fuel pumps.

Sheetz currently operates 622 stores in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

“…We are constantly innovating and exploring new offerings to truly give our customers what they want, when they want it, 24/7/365 — that includes accepting many forms of payment,” said Linda Smith, payments manager for Sheetz. “We’re very excited to be working with Flexa to roll out support for cryptocurrencies and other types of digital assets at our stores.”

Flexa, based in New York City, offers cryptocurrency payments through a number of apps including Gemini, BRD and Coin List. The company also enables Flexa in other company’s apps.

To enable Flexa’s instant authorization process for digital currency payments, Sheetz worked with its point-of-sale technology partner, NCR.

“With interest in digital currencies reaching all-time highs, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that there are real, tangible benefits for the merchants who accept them—not only reduced fraud and cost savings, but also a better and more mobile customer experience,” said Trevor Filter, co-founder of Flexa.

A shortage of workers driving up starting wages

RISING WAGES: Job seekers can expect higher wages and better benefits as employers compete for workers.
RISING WAGES: Job seekers can expect higher wages and better benefits as employers compete for workers.

It’s a good time to be a worker in the region.

Wages are dramatically higher because of growth in the industrial sector and the demand for workers in retail and hospitality industries that had to let many employees go at the height of the pandemic.

In heated competition for available workers, retailers are upping their wages across the board, and they’re raising them significantly.

Sheetz, the Altoona-based convenience chain, made headlines recently when it announced a $2 per hour wage increase for all of its 18,000 store employees. Sheetz, which has close to 300 stores in Pennsylvania, and more than 600 in the mid-Atlantic region, reports that the permanent increase equates to a $50 million annual investment.

It’s not the only company offering dramatically higher wages since the pandemic.

The Target at Hamilton Crossings in Lower Macungie Township is starting employees at $15. McDonald’s on Cedar Crest in Allentown is offering a salaries starting $16 an hour – more than twice the state minimum of $7.25.

Before the pandemic many fast food restaurants had signs posted in their windows offering starting workers $8 to $9 per hour.

Light industrial

With rapid growth in the light industrial and logistics sectors, low- and no-skill jobs were being created at a rapid pace in the Lehigh Valley even before the pandemic started. But since the start of the pandemic, wage pressure has driven starting pay significantly higher, said Katie

Hetherington Cunfer, director of government & community relations for the Greater Reading Economic Partnership. She said companies that were advertising jobs at $12.05 in 2020 are now offering $15 per hour.

Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., said Billboards can be seen on most major roadways in the region offering light industrial jobs for higher wages.

“It’s an issue of supply and demand,” he said. “All of a sudden there’s been a huge demand for workers and those signs are everywhere along Route 22.”

Most light industrial employers in the region are upping their wages. Amazon raised its starting wages past $17 per hour. FedEx recently announced plans to hire more than 1,000 full- and part-time workers for its Breinigsville facility. It’s advertising starting wages $18 and $19 per hour.

Uline is looking to fill nearly 200 mostly warehousing jobs in Trexlertown. It’s offering starting salaries of $23 per hour.

Cunfer said it’s not just higher salaries that companies are offering. Some are offering sign-on and retention bonuses. Palram in Kutztown is offering $2,500 sign-on bonuses plus weekly recognition bonuses. Aerotek is offering a $15,000 raise after 6-months for an electronics production operator at its Breinigsville plant.

“Those get people to come and stay,” she said.

While most companies are actively promoting their higher salaries, some are still hesitant to publicize those numbers and Cunfer is counseling them to rethink that stance.

“Not giving people as much information as you can may be a mistake,” she said. “It may be the motivation for someone applying for a job.”

At a minimum

In a recent interview, Jim Fris, CEO of the PJW Group, which operates P.J. Whelihan’s restaurants in the region, said the pandemic seemed to do what government could not. With all the push to increase the state and federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 per hour, market pressure drove wages up to $15 on its own.

However, the hospitality industry has different wage issues, noted Cunfer.

She said wages for tipped workers presented a serious challenge because Pennsylvania business owners only have to pay them a minimum of $2.83 per hour. But, with less customers because of COVID-19 capacity restrictions, many weren’t making enough money to meet traditional minimum wage and were leaving their jobs to take Federal COVID unemployment compensation because their pay wasn’t enough to sustain them.

As a result, Cunfer said she knows of many restaurants in Berks that are starting tipped workers at $4 per hour to help make up the difference.

At the office

One group of workers has yet to benefit from the spike in wages — office and white-collar workers, said Cunningham.

“We really haven’t seen any major changes for more white collar or executive positions other than them working from home,” he said.

But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t think it won’t reach that segment of the workforce eventually.

As entry-level and minimally skilled positions garner higher wages it may likely cause resentments from long-standing and management workers who aren’t seeing the boost. That, and the increased prices that are likely to come from the higher wages, are likely to drive a demand for higher wages for all.

“We haven’t seen it just yet, but ultimately think it will pressure itself,” he said.

Of course while the higher wages are great news for workers, it has been burdensome on employers, particularly smaller employers who are having trouble meeting the demand for higher wages to keep staffing levels where they need to be.

There are other ways besides higher wages companies can use to attract the workers they need, Cunfer said. Signing and retention bonuses are one way – and they won’t necessarily lead to higher salaries down the line. Benefits such as health care insurance or the quality of life offered by the company, can go a long way to attracting employees.

“It’s about salesmanship,” she said. “It’s an employees’ market. You need to find a way to distinguish yourself and make employees come to you.”

Sheetz raises pay by $2/hour for all store employees

Sheetz, the Altoona-based restaurant and convenience chain announced a $2/hour wage increase for all of its 18,000 store employees which will go into effect on May 21, 2021.

Sheetz, which has close to 300 stores in Pennsylvania, and over 600 stores in total throughout the mid-Atlantic region, reports that the permanent increase equates to a $50 million annual investment.

In addition, Sheetz also announced an additional $1/hour wage increase from May 21, 2021 until September 23, 2021 for all store employees, a $12 million investment, according to Sheetz.

“To attract and retain top talent, we know we need to continue to invest in our employees,” said Travis Sheetz, president and COO of Sheetz. “That investment includes more than just competitive wages. We provide career growth opportunities and a clear path to promotion so life at Sheetz can be not just a job, but a career.”


Wegmans, Hilton, Target among Fortune’s 100 best big companies to work for

Wegmans, Hilton and Target are among a number of large corporations with Pennsylvania locations appearing on Fortune’s top 100 companies to work for.

This is the 23rd year the New York-based Fortune magazine has published the rankings, which are the result of a survey administered by Great Place to Work, a California-based workplace analytics firm.

Hilton, the Virginia-based national hotel chain, came in at number three with employees offered perks like job sharing, compressed work weeks, fully paid sabbaticals, sick days for part timers and student loan debt repayment.

Wegmans, the higher-end supermarket chain with stores throughout Pennsylvania, ranked number four, down one from number three last year. The New York-based company boasts sick days for part timers, compressed work weeks, and college tuition reimbursement. Wegmans also hired 1,656 new high school and college graduates last year.

National retail chain Target came in at number 14, also with sick days for part timers, subsidized child care and job sharing. Target was also one of the first major retailers to accelerate its minimum wage to $15, and currently has roughly 8,635 job openings nationwide.

Other businesses operating in Pennsylvania to make the top 100 list include Marriot at 15, Bank of America at 22, CarMax at 36, T-Mobile at 51, Burlington Stores at 69, Sheetz at 83 , and Farmers Insurance at 84.

California-based network and software company Cisco Systems ranked number one of top 100 places to work for 2021.

The full list can be found here.

Sheetz opening new convenience store in Berks County

The new Sheetz at 2298 Golden Key Road in New Smithville, Berks County. PHOTO/SUBMITTED


Berks County is getting a new Sheetz.

The Altoona-based convenience chain will officially open its new store in New Smithville Wednesday at 2298 Golden Key Road.

Sheetz currently operates 616 store locations across Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland, with all locations open 24/7, 365 days a year.

This new location offers Sheetz’s Made-to-Order (MTO) menu on its touch-screen order terminals where customers will be able to order any of Sheetz’s customized specialty drinks or food items.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the store will be observing the chain’s safety protocols.

Sheetz said it has established several safety measures which include encouraging social distancing throughout all of its locations, requiring all employees to wear masks, conducting employee wellness checks before every shift and has implemented enhanced routine daily cleaning procedures with a focus on high touch surfaces like door handles.

As part of its grand opening of the new store Sheetz said it will donate $2,500 to Helping Harvest, an organization which helps feed the hungry in Berks and Schuylkill Counties.

Sheetz will also donate $2,500 to the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.

Sheetz hiring 3,000 employees company wide

On Tuesday, Oct. 13, Sheetz announced plans to hire an additional 3,000 employees company-wide.

“As an essential business, Sheetz has been committed to staying open to serve the needs of the community. We are grateful for the dedication of our employees who have continued to provide superior customer service during these challenging times,” Vice President of Human Resources Stephaine Doliveira said in a statement.

“In addition, we also want to provide employment opportunities for those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 health crisis.”

The Altoona-based company is hoping to provide jobs for people who may have lost employment during the pandemic. Job opportunities will be available in several departments including food service, distribution, corporate departments and maintenance, according to the news release.

Employment opportunities include medical and dental insurance, 12-week full paid maternity leave, college tuition reimbursement, and 401(k) retirement plan options.

Those interested may apply online at sheetz.com.

The company operates over 600 stores throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Coin shortage having minimal impact on local business

There is a national coin shortage, but it’s not at emergency levels, at least not in the Lehigh Valley.

Those in the financial industry say the slowed economy, hoarding and a COVID-19 pandemic related reduction in production at the U.S. Mint have all led to the shortage in coins.

The shortage is being felt particularly by smaller retail locations, like gas stations and mini markets, which often deal in exact change.

Nick Ruffner, public relations manager for Altoona-based Sheetz, which has a strong presences of mini markets in the region, said at this point no one is panicking.

“Fewer coins are being circulated, but it’s not impacting us at an emergency level,” he said.

Ruffner said some people have been concerned because retailers, like Sheetz, have posted signs in stores asking customers to use exact change or their credit or debit card to make purchases.

He said retailers are just being cautious to make sure the shortage doesn’t become more serious.

At Neff’s Bank, President and CEO Kevin Schmidt said his staff has had no problem meeting the demand so far.

“We have been able to fulfill our normal orders and that of our customers. We have heard reports that non-customers have had some difficulties getting their request filled by their bank,” Schmidt said.

He calls the overall impact on banking in the Lehigh Valley, “minimal.”

Schmidt did say the bank is taking coin deposits from customers, something many retail and banking experts have been encouraging to get coins back in circulation.

Ruffner said Sheetz is going a step further in trying to ease the coin crunch, and has posted signage at all of its locations letting customers know how they can help.

He said the number one effort to recoup coins is asking customers to round up their purchase and donate the remaining change to the Sheetz for Kids campaign that the stores hold twice a year to raise money to buy holiday presents for young children in need.

They are also accepting coin donations, which will go towards that fund.

The stores are also encouraging customers to use gift cards, the store’s payment app, debit and credit cards and exact change for their purchases.

He said many of those methods are also good practice to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Eliminating cash helps prevent the transmission of the virus and promotes social distancing with staff,” he said.

Convenience store competitors Sheetz, Wawa, come together over coronavirus

Workers from Sheetz and Wawa deliver food to the Helping Harvest Food Bank in Reading. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


Sheetz and Wawa, two of Pennsylvania’s major convenience store chains, and often the subject of arguments between their fans as to which is the best, are working together to help area food banks struggling to manage a growing need caused by the pandemic.

Sheetz and Wawa combined donated 1,000 lunches and $4,000 to Helping Harvest Food Bank in Reading and Second Harvest Food Bank of Lehigh Valley and Northeast Pennsylvania. Lunches included a turkey sandwich, cookie, fruit cup, string cheese and bottle of water.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created a dramatic increase in food insecurity across the communities we serve,” said Joe Sheetz, CEO of Sheetz. “With a combined mission of feeding people, our hope is to support those impacted by this pandemic, to provide relief to ensure that food is not added to the list of worries as we fight this pandemic.”

While the pairing may seem unusual, the CEO of Wawa Chris Gheysen said “Now was the time to come together to help our neighbors and communities.”